Figen Genco

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Dear Figen,

My wife and I have recently moved back in together, and the combination of all our stuff is overwhelming. Living in such a mess is making me tense and us unhappy. We should be enjoying our time together, yet we spend most of the time struggling our way through the mountain of stuff and arguing. We are both motivated to work on the problem and create a better living environment. However, since we both work, we aren’t making fast progress. In addition to that, Susan and my styles are very different. I’m ruthless in getting rid of things that are no longer of current essential use or sentimental value. Susan holds onto everything. I try to respect her needs of not throwing things out. For instance, I calmly say ‘Let’s get rid of it honey” and she responds with” I want to keep it, it just needs a home”. This drives me crazy. Her clutter is so overwhelming that I can’t concentrate on my stuff and work on it. This has led to a degree of clutter stalemate. I am in such a desperate state that money is not an issue anymore. The clutter is burying us alive. Help!
Scott- Bensalem

Dear Scott,

The longer you two lived separate, the more things you must have accumulated adding to what you already had. There might be some purchases of imperative household things after the separation. There might also be some things that were bought in an impulse to fill the void from the other person. The latter are the things that you can live without. The wise thing to do in unifications like yours is try to go through the belongings before moving in together. Deciding what needn’t and shouldn’t be brought in and not bringing them is much easier than trying to get rid of things after the move. When objects enter our territory, it is harder to let them go. Going through things before the move also helps make the move faster and cheaper.

In your situation; where the move has already happened; the best thing to do is to make an inventory of things. Tackle one area of one room at a time. For example; make a list of things in the kitchen drawers. How many bottle openers do you two have? Choose two and take the rest out. I don’t think she will be worried about which ones you choose. I bet YOU will be the picky one about the knives, too. You will want to keep YOUR big sharp knife- the one you have taken away with you when you left.

After making your lists, you two sit down, and go over them together. Try to let go off or keep equal number of objects from each side. Each person crosses out what they don’t want. DO not try to make a decision of what to do with the extras at this point. Just concentrate on what you are keeping in your active space. Once you know what you are left with, you can make your decision on the rest. Trash, donate, give someone else or label in separate bags and box to keep in an inactive area. Don’t pressure each other on letting go off things. Work productively as a team. It is better to let people be comfortable with their decisions instead of pressuring them into something which they will hate, and be uncomfortable with psychologically and emotionally. Have you ever thought that Susan might be clinging onto things with the fear of losing you again?

Remember. This is not just about space and clutter. This is also about two people learning to live together and trust each other all over again.

Figen Genco, BA.
Organizing/Feng Shui/EFT
215 354 0275

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